As the battle lines over the HHS contraceptive mandate form, a battle which at least one pundit has said may cost Pres. Obama his re-election, both sides are cleaning and polishing their rhetorical weapons. One weapon on the pro-mandate side, though, promises to be more damaging to the side wielding it than to their opponents.
To wit, the “war on women”. Let’s look at the ever-nutty Amanda Marcotte:
[The fight over Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s funding of Planned Barrenhood] was a battle about values. Specifically, whether or not we value women as human beings or not. Anti-choicers are trying to marginalize comprehensive health care for women basically to put us in our place, to demote us from the status of people and return us to the status of objects. Saving breasts is all good and well — they are decorative, after all! — but health care for dirty sluts who go around having sex as if they have a right? I think, and said in my Alternet piece, that one reason this really hit home is anti-choice objectification of women had gotten to the point where they were pitting our own body parts against each other, creating a war between wholesome, all-American boobies and evil vaginas.
Hysterical, unbelievable nonsense, right? Oh, but wait! It gets better!
The debate over health care is basically about this ultimate fight over whether or not women are people. Conservatives see women as objects. Sex and reproduction the way the objects are used, and like with any other property, how and who uses it is the whole point. That’s why abstinence-only classes compare sexually active women to lollipops that have been opened and licked, or toothbrushes that someone else has used. Taken to its extreme — and anti-choicers are nothing if not extreme — this view means that a woman who has sex before marriage is broken and useless, and providing her contraception and STD prevention/treatment is like putting a new paint job on a totaled car [I can’t make this stuff up — follow the link and you’ll see I cut and pasted directly from it].
Marcotte’s assertions are so over-the-top that Kyle Cupp of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, a pro-choice and anti-religion blogger given to overgeneralization himself, reprimanded:
Even if one could magically rid all misogyny from the world, there would still be a basis for an anti-choice movement: the belief or the conclusion that nascent human life deserves legal protection. This proposition needs no misogyny to originate or gain widespread assent. And assent it has. So unless you can show conclusively that this specific assent historically originated from and continues to originate from misogyny, then there’s no rational sense to think a desire to demean women explains anti-choicers. Anything less and you’re at best overgeneralizing and almost surely wrong [almost?].
Overgeneralizing it may be, but that doesn’t mean some people in the MSM don't take it seriously. Earlier, a tweet came on my feed from Kathryn Jean Lopez that virtually exploded with incredulity: “MSNBC host asks re #HHSmandate: ‘Can this issue be seen as part of the war on women?’ WHAT the heck is the war on women in U.S.? Seriously.”
What war on women, indeed. The radical feminists who make up the hard-core of the pro-choice, pro-contraception bloc have had forty and more years to institutionalize a near-religious conviction that pregnancy and motherhood is all about keeping women down. It began by accepting the male chauvinist premiss that what men did in the public sphere — running governments, working in offices, etc. — was far more interesting, important and valuable than anything women did in the domestic sphere, then twisted it into a white-hot hatred of pregnancy and a subliminal bigotry towards men as “the enemy”.
Since 1973, feminism has changed, bringing forth all sorts of different theories and meta-narratives, some of which even embrace motherhood as a valid choice as well as rejecting abortion and contraception. But those aren’t the women writing the pro-choice blogs and driving the pro-choice strategy. No, that belongs to women like Anna North of Jezebel, who writes such intelligent, thought-provoking things like:
Really, it seems like women are starved for accurate information about reproduction, both in general and specific to them. Specialized testing to determine a woman’s (or man’s) potential fertility is available but by no means accessible or affordable for everyone, and most school sex ed doesn’t focus on what happens when you actually want to get knocked up. [Cue predictable, irrational rant:] What we do have is a lot of yelling: don’t have sex ever! But start now and have babies right away! Have a baby ASAP, even without a partner! But single moms are selfish and horrible! Add to that the economic and social realities that make it hard to just decide to have kids one day (for every lady who’s like la-di-da I have plenty of time, I’d wager there are several who would like to procreate right now but lack the right job/health insurance/home/savings/partner), and you have an extremely confusing and difficult environment for anyone who might ever want to spawn.
As long as you say it firmly and with conviction, who needs evidence or logic. Can anybody besides the “true believers” take this kind of rambling, blithering nonsense seriously?
In fact, the “misogynists’ war on women” myth is pretty much of a piece with the standard leftist tactic: if somebody doesn’t give you exactly what you want, blame it on hate. And while it’s worked for a long time, this is one arena where too many people know the truth: Women are at the forefront of the pro-life movement. More women than men have polled pro-life from before Roe v. Wade to today. More women like Kimberley Manning are shaking themselves loose from the collective neurosis of second-wave feminism. And the recent beatdown of Susan G. Komen has many people asking suspicious questions about the power Planned Parenthood has in our culture.
No, if “war on women” is the bet-the-farm strategy of the pro-contraceptive forces, then they’re going to lose. Especially if it comes packaged in silly cartoons like this: